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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Indeed

Happy Easter

 

Celebrating today because Jesus is alive…  and I am free to live real life.

Happy Easter, my friends.

A Good Friday Thank You Note

Dear Jesus,

I just want to say… thank You for today.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love you.

Always,

Bria

 

On Approaching Easter Weekend

What was it like to sit at the table that Thursday of Passover?

Jesus eager to partake of this Passover meal. Peter and John having prepared the lamb to eat. Jesus, the Lamb, preparing Himself for what lie ahead by soaking up every last moment before He killed death itself.

Did the joy beyond the suffering fill the thoughts of His mind, or was He fixed on the moment? Enjoying His time, the meal, His best friends’ banter? Steadying Himself for the suffering He knew was only hours away?

Did He take deep breaths as He hung out with His disciples? No doubt He communed with the Father as well. Did He pray in His depths for the faithfulness and endurance He knew He would need in just a few hours?

When He passed the bread, did He hope to instill in 11 of His friends the truth of what they took so they’d remember it tomorrow as they lay His body in the tomb?

This is my body given for you; do this in rememberance of me. (Lk. 22:19)

When He touched Judas’ feet, held the heels of His betrayer, did His heart catch a bit? Did He hesitate to touch Satan’s minister? To share the cup with the one whose pride would send Him to certain suffering unknown to any man?

I could’ve been Judas. I like to think I couldn’t.

But the truth about my pride is that is sent Jesus to suffer. Just like Judas.

If I’d been sitting at that table, would Jesus have taken pause before washing my feet? Before offering me His broken body? His spilt blood?

My faltered faith wants to say yes, He would have. Because I don’t deserve Him. I don’t deserve the serving or the washing or the bread of His body. Nothing in me deserves any part of Him.

But the faith He lets me have, the kind that’s rooted in what He says, tells me differently.

It says He washed Judas’ feet just like He washed John’s. And He would’ve taken mine up into His hands, too. Wiped them clean with the cloth. Rinsed them well with the water.

And then He would have walked that road into the Garden, handed Himself over to the soldiers, let Himself be beaten and ridiculed, all the while doing it for me.

All the while doing it for you.

How can I not take pause to soak in the amazing for all that He gave? How can we not celebrate from the deepest of our depths as we realize the truth that He did it for people like Judas? And me.

And so, as we approach the Easter weekend, I find a joy running deep through my veins. Because death is now dead. For me. For you. And the chains of the crap that holds me back from real living are gone. No more.

Happy Easter Weekend, my friends. Schones Wochenende.

Why Holy Week Matters

I read a devotion this morning that led me to Jesus feet.

Actually it pointed me to the Jesus Who got down on His hands and knees and scrubbed grime off the calloused feet of men who were about to desert and hurt and betray Him.

I looked over the part in that story where Almighty God took a bucket and a rag and washed the feet of a traitor. The feet of a liar. The feet of a doubter.

Jesus, the One Who is God, gave up every ounce of shame and washed their hardened heels. The ones that would soon leave Him to fight His battle alone.pic monkey

Those feet had walked miles through dusty streets and led donkey out of dirty barns. They’d stood to slay lambs, prepare a Passover meal, and argue over who could be the greatest.

And now Jesus held those feet steady as He rubbed them clean.

I read that devotion and all I could think was how much my feet need washed as well. Not because I need a bath, but because of the places I have let them take me. Places like pridefulness and greed and self-centered life.

I need what Jesus gave. What He gives even now.

How amazing it is that God Himself would offer cleanness to such messed up people as those men at that supper. Such messed up people as me.

And this is why Easter. It’s why Holy Week and Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Because Jesus’ clean is all we need.

 

Remember in Five Minutes

It’s Friday, and I have five-minutes. So I’m joining Lisa-Jo’s party. You should come, too.

Today’s Prompt: Remember

I just walked into my bedroom and smelled Europe outside.

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The scent of a foreign city and its impending excitement that hides behind every hundred-year-old building. Lurks inside each cigarette-smoke-filled waft of the air outside the Woolworth and the Oskar restaurant. The aroma of unknown that waits to be found out as I walk through the streets and pass the people with their dogs, just living in Europe.

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I forgot.

Because I am now one of them — those who live in Europe. It’s why we said yes to this year abroad. So we could know the living and the God-trusting and the stripping of everything we didn’t know hindered us from really, truly surrendering to His way and His life. Also, we wanted the fresh excitement of living where we don’t already know.

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But today I remember.

What Unafraid Reveals

We went shopping a few Saturdays ago. It was a successful German day. That’s what we say when we are able to communicate with Germans with less grunting, more actual words.

As we checked out at Karstadt, my husband said to me, “A few months ago we would’ve been too scared to ask where all this stuff was. And we would’ve missed out just because of our fear.”

That, my friend, is Life. Unafraid.

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It happened again two days ago. Monday I walked into Hugendubel and searched for the book I’ve been stalking for months. Since I found out Dietrich Bonhoeffer was martyred just 57 kilometers from Bayreuth. I want to see it. But first, I want to know his story. So I started looking for the book.

But Germany’s amazon scares me a little. Because I’m never quite sure if I’m ordering the English version of a book or its German counterpart. And the cost of shipping requires a good amount of certainty for such purchases. It was something I needed to physically see.

Also, I plan to mark it up a whole lot. So I didn’t want the nook version. I wanted the pages.

So I searched the shelves for German version of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Spy. But the book was not on the shelves. Not even the German version. It would have helped my plea, having a physical representation of the book I wanted. Because I can say the words “in English, please.”

I’d been feeling cute and spunky that morning, having just returned from two fun days in away in Munich. Also, I had my favorite hat on and my shoes that make me feel like I don’t sit around all day watching TV and eating bonbons. Perhaps the Unafraid hid inside those shoes.

For they walked me up to the information counter and placed me directly in front of a German-speaking worker. I spoke an Unafraid dialect of German, which the nice lady understood. She helped me find the right version on her computer and then she ordered it for me! Not only that, she said she would have it for me the NEXT DAY.

That’s when I blurted out, in German

Das fruhe mich!!

Because I think that means something like, “This makes me so happy!” And the lady laughed at my Unafraid.

To be honest, so did I.

And so this week, I am finding even more of the real life God wants for me. The life that nests itself right inside the fear of God. Directly behind Unafraid.

**Have you checked out my manifesto yet? It’s called Life Unafraid: The Manifesto. It’s all about what God’s been teaching me about living and fear and what it really means to trust Him with every step. You can get it for free if you’ll just sign up for my email list. Just click right here.

Because He Gives Good Gifts

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Oh, that we would believe the grace He longs to lavish on us! Today. RightNow. And oh that we might enjoy it.

Five Minutes of Rest

Time for 5-Minute-Friday with the awesome people hanging over at Lisa-Jo’s today. Here’s the drill.

Today’s topic: Rest

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In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength . . .  Isaiah 30:15

Repentance and rest. Salvation. Quietness and trust. Strength.

It started with this verse — my Friday morning. I was looking for a promise that I’d found yesterday. One in Isaiah about how God longs to be gracious to me. I’d made it into a picture and hung it on the wall to remind us that He loves to give us good gifts. Longs to fill us with only amazing.

Then my eyes found this verse. A promise for deliverance from the crap and the pulling and the heavy of this expecting that I’ve come to habitually put on myself. And my family, too, if I am to be brutally honest.

Expecting on anyone but God Himself brings anything but rest. Anything but deliverance.

So I write out the verse in my green leather journal. I bank on the promise that I will find rest if only I will pick up my expecting and move it over to Him. And rest in the gift of right now and real hope.

STOP

How To Find the Bigger Picture

I sit for cappuccino and a butter croissant. Nothing like a late morning snack to get the writing going.

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I choose my place carefully so I can see more than just a wall. Someone walking up the stairs to approach the barista and the little cafe part of the Hugendubel bookstore I have loved since the first time I stepped inside.

I sit near the railing that overlooks the main floor. Not much going on today. The barista’s reading a newspaper, at the ready with a Hallo! Or a bitte shoen and a glass for whatever request a new customer might bring.

She’s not real warm. But polite. She chats with customers she recognizes. Not with me, though.

I place my bag on the floor, re-arrange the little table to make room for my mini laptop which I bought for such occasions.

I’m overlooking the beautiful bags that hang by the stairs in the children’s department. Every time I see them, I touch them and dream. My kids would look adorable carrying those bags through these German streets. Or across the world in an airplane. To school in Ohio.

If only they didn’t cost so many euros.

My eyes move beyond the stairs to the wall behind. A mass of book covers from who-knows-how-far-back. Yellows and reds and white and blacks. A few pink ones and purple and blue and brown.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I try to read the titles, but most of them are German, so I can only sort of understand them. Each looks fine on its own, but random at best, were it not for the bigger purpose they serve.

I only see it when I adjust my eyes for the bigger picture. Take a step back to see the whole of the wall-sized display.

Each cover acts as a pixel for the bigger picture. Each serves a purpose for which it did not know it was ever intended. Not to point to themselves but to create something entirely different.

I switch my focus, make it wider and bigger. I must step back to see it, so I do.

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That’s when the outline shows through and the individual points fade. The display on the two-story-high wall suddenly becomes prominent in my gaze. The gaze I cannot seem to break.

It’s a man. A poet. An author of long ago.

It’s brilliant, this display. I’m enamored with the detail. That someone could take individual pieces of art and form them into something entirely unexpected. Unintended. Unknown from the first.

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That one little piece of art could play a part in one much bigger. Could display a beauty entirely different from the one each author at first intended. That books called Silver Sex and Stop Smoking Stay Slim could play a part in the bigger picture of this silhouette art.

We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone . . . and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weaving of individual threads form one to another that creates something.       -Sandra Day O’Connor

Brilliant.

I sit across from it, and I can’t stop looking at the details of each book cover. Each color and design and word inside the complete picture that is this wall.

And the deeper truth does not escape me. The truth about real art from the One Who invented it.

I think of the tapestry cliche I’ve heard so many times. The one about the tapestry God is sewing and the whole picture none of us can see.

The truth that minutes make up days and years and whole lives. And the picture God is painting looks altogether different from the one I think I’m drawing. The art on which I work with such desperate intentionality to serve my purpose in these minutes. In these rightnow’s.

I consider His intentions. For this year. This life and every life with whom I intersect.

What if God, the Sovereign Perfect Artist that He is, has an altogether different purpose which I cannot possibly recognize but for the eternal focus He asks me to fix. A complete design He’s got all planned out in which He will use these minutes I call my life? The ones you call yours?

That’s really it, isn’t it? The serving of His purpose. The making of His picture.

The trusting His working of the design He has purposed.

The book cover pixel I create even now. Contributing to the big wall picture He is purposing to draw.

There would be a void without any one of those book covers. A blank hole where there should be color. Because each of them serves to complete the bigger picture.

And faithful calls loud as I realize its importance. Who am I to hold back from the book cover I now paint? In the form of this life. This living and telling and loving and serving. How could I not be faithful to fill this point in the picture God is using me to help paint?

Aren’t we all just pixels in His wall-sized silhouette? He chooses the color and the shape. And I paint as He asks. By living what He gives. Keeping in step with His Spirit. Making lunch for my kids. Typing words on a computer. Giving money to a beggar. Going to coffee with a friend.

When we are faithful with every rightnow, His picture gets more beautiful. More complete.

Living according to the way He gives us, we fill that pixel spot up on that wall. The spot He is saving just for us.

What pixel are you? How will you fill that hole for the whole? How can I encourage you to be faithful even today in this very rightnow?

The Story I Will Tell

I flounder and wane with the block of a writer. Not knowing what to say.

Unsure how to separate this mess of thoughts all wound up tight inside my head. It’s like a ball of dreams and worries and wonders and what-about’s all knotted up and scary-ugly.

What shall I write today? The expectation I’ve come to force upon myself. The one that says if I don’t show up, I will lose my craft. I will lose my readers. I will lose.

And the grace I used to give myself hides behind the expecting. This new found forging of the career I think I want has somehow become a tangle of prideful motivations and people-pleasing efforts I have not known since I’ve become an actual adult.

Still, I show up. Put my butt on the chair. And I write.

Because somehow I need to get through the tangle. Somehow I must emerge past the knotted-up motives and the confused where-am-I-headed’s. And I must write.

I open up email before I start. Today’s devotion shows up, and I click over to read. I notice my own name in the author’s box. I wrote these 300 words weeks ago for the series we’re doing on Jesus’ life.

I read it over like I often do, check for typos and mistakes I might not have caught earlier.

All the while, I’ve been asking, Lord, what do I write? What can I say? How shall I untangle even a thought into words for this white screen staring straight at me?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I read the devotion, and soak in the words. Jesus and the disciples and the storm that came up. Mark chapter four tells the story so well.

They took him along… in the boat… A furious squall… and the waves broke over the boat … Jesus in the stern, sleeping on a cushion…

He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (See Mk. 4:35-41.)

I notice notes in the margin of my Bible. Notes I wrote when I studied it last month. The word megas in Greek and its repeated usage here.

Megas squall. Megas calm.

It means large, great, in the widest sense. As in: when the wind died down, the calm was just as great as the storm that popped up.

And all because Jesus Christ spoke three small words.

I read fear in the disciples, panic as they wake Jesus up. It contrasts so well with the terrified they know after it’s all said and done.

They’d been fearing a mere storm, when they should’ve just feared the One Who could restore the calm. The One sleeping on a cushion in the back of the boat. The One Who could stop hurricanes with words.

I wonder as I read if He can do that to the whirlwind in my head.

And I know He can.

So I find myself back to where I always end up. Right in the middle of God’s Words for me.

It’s all I know how to write.

My thoughts alone are not enough to keep you interested. So many authors have such amazing words. Such incredible stories. But my story is different.

It’s the story of a life without clear direction. The story of my needy, full of wrong motives that need cleaning. Prideful thoughts that need purging. Fear-filled panic that needs adusting.

It’s the story of me finding real life in God’s Word.

I keep coming back to the Bible, and I realize that my writing is all about that. I can’t fill it with thoughts I can untangle and describe for you. Not like so many others whose eloquence gives way to beautiful prose and bestsellers. Those to whom God has given a different story. 

I’ve been chasing that story for myself and am left wanting for words I cannot find. Thus the flailing and the floundering for a writing topic for today.

Because my job is different from theirs. My call in this writing is to live God’s truth. To tell about Him. Who He is. What He says. My task is to make God famous in the way He has shown me.

It’s the job we all have, really. The making Him famous however He deems appropriate.

For some of us it’s writing novels. For others it’s flying planes. Or raising children. Or designing mechanical things and using geometry and physics and other mathematical skills.

I’ve been asking God for direction. What should I write? How do I do it?

He keeps pointing me back to where I began. Like today with the devotion. It’s the only thing I know to keep writing. Real life as God intended. How God’s Word  looks in skin. Finding Jesus in the now.

And this, I am finding, is the story I will tell.